A menorah and two stars are on display for the first time this year in downtown Winter Garden, and the Winter Garden Hebrew School held a ceremony to light them.
WINTER GARDEN About 60 people gathered in downtown Winter Garden on Tuesday, Dec. 12, to ceremonially light a menorah in honor of the first night of Hanukkah. The city has set up two stars and a menorah in front of the police department for the first time, and Winter Garden Hebrew School and Chabad of South Orlando teamed up to host an official menorah-lighting ceremony there.
“This year we started a Hebrew school in Winter Garden for the families that are here, and we were discussing that maybe we should do something for Hanukkah for them,” said Rabbi Yosef Konikov. “We wanted to do something for the whole community — not just for the Hebrew school, but for everyone. Downtown Winter Garden has a lot of festive symbols, but there’s never really been a menorah. So we contacted downtown and they were so nice and so willing to get involved and make this happen.”
Complete with festive music, glowing menorah necklaces, candles and latkes, attendees celebrated the first night of Hanukkah and shared the cheer with passersby downtown.
But it’s more than a celebration of a holiday, Konikov said. Hanukkah and the lighting of the menorah come with a message of light.
“Every person has a spark, a light, inside,” Konikov said. “When you witness the lighting of the menorah — which represents illuminating the darkness and making the world a better place — it also represents spirit. The spirit inside of people also wakes up. Every event we do, it’s like this adrenaline pops up, people get very excited. The families are very happy and it’s exciting. For the first time, it’s a great turnout.”